Soils and Geomorphology

Michael Loso

Alaska Pacific University
University with graduate programs, primarily masters programs

Course Size:
less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper-division elective geomorphology course with prerequisites in precalculus and basic geology. The course is cross-listed for upper division undergraduates and masters candidates, and typically has students with a very broad range of backgrounds. The course has a required four-hour lab and several field trips.

Course Goals:

  • Students should be able to recognize a diversity of surficial landforms that define earth's surface.
  • Students should be able to recognize specifically those landforms that are characteristic of Alaskan / subarctic landscapes.
  • Students should be able to utilize physical and biological laws and processes to develop testable hypotheses about the genesis of landforms.
  • Students should be able to develop, present, and execute practical experimental and/or observational tests of their hypotheses.
  • Students should be able to define the physical properties of diverse parent materials and relate these properties to their behavior and appearance at the Earth's surface.
  • Students should be able to relate landforms to basic known geological, ecological, and cultural histories of southern Alaska.
  • Students should be able to identify appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative techniques for dating landforms and deposits.
  • Students should be able to synthesize field observations, maps, digital data, and aerial photos in the interpretation of landforms.
  • Students should be able to identify the typical soil orders present in southern Alaska and explain their development in the context of site history.
  • Students should be able to read, understand, and discuss the primary literature of geomorphology and soils science.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Course activities are designed to maximize interactive discussion in both lectures and labs. To the extent practical, labs are conducted outdoors, but Alaska's fall/early winter climate places limitations on this. Labs and field trips are focused more on observation, critical thinking, and discussion than on laboratory techniques per se. Assessment is based upon lab reports, exams, and participation in discussions.


Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 96kB May27 08)